Startup Coaching

When you're starting a business, it can be very challenging and confusing. Sometimes, you need general support, while others require a more hand-on approach.
February 2020
Brian Cairns
How are we different from SCORE or other local free business mentors? It's relatively simple. With SCORE and the others, you do the work. They review it. With us, we do the work. You review it.

For many businesses with simple business models, it does not make sense to spend money on an advisor. Advisors can be expensive. You need to be certain to make every dollar count. However, there are specific cases where expertise is needed that your local business groups don't have. This was the case with David.

David was is medical technology. He was overwhlemed with demand do to the COVID-19 pandemic. His business wasn't set up to deal with it. Since he works in a high regulated industry, he needed some specific expertise in the area to help him set-up, operate, and scale his business so he could succeed.

How We Helped David

Problem: Knowledge Gaps

Look, they didn’t teach you how to run a business in medical school or during your residency so how would you know what to expect? We told David. He looked relieved. He had taken on so much that he almosted needed permission to admit he couldn't do it all.

We explained that this is one of the most common problems that we see. That's why we exist to help people like you. It was pretty clear where the issues lay: structure, operations, and staffing.

Solution: Skills Inventory

This may seem a bit unorthodox, but every business requires a set of skills in order to function well. Rarely are all those skills found in one person. Furthermore, even if they are, no one person has the time to utilize those skills 24/7. We sat down with David and started to build our classic skills inventory list.  After which, we could go through one of favorite exercises, that we lovingly call, "keep vs. toss", the first step in delegation and identification of key skill gaps.

Once we had the skills gap complete, we could start to map out the right organizational structure to fill-in those gaps.

Problem: Hiring Staff

Hiring is one of the toughest jobs that a new business faces. Do I have enough money? Will I make the right choice? What if it doesn't work out? The list goes on. It is a source of much anxiety. David had those same concerns. However, since we did the keep vs. toss exercise, we know the skills and jobs that were needed. Therefore, it was much easier to write the job descriptions and hire people with right skills.

Solution: Staffing Plan

First, we took a piece of paper for each employee that she had.  On that piece of paper, we wrote down what we though were that person’s skills, strengths, and weaknesses. We looked at each non-critical task and tried to match them to an employee asking ourselves:
  • Does the employee have the time/capacity to take on more work?
  • Is the employee skilled enough to perform the task well?
  • Does the employee show the potential to learn to perform the task well?

This makes it clear as to who was right for which role, what training is necessary, and where we needed to hire.

Problem: Evaluating Skills

David now knew roles he needed so that made it easier. However, since he had never performed or managed anyone with this skills, that understandably, made him uncomfortable. He was really concerned that he might pick the wrong people.

Solution: Skill Tests

Since we went through the skills inventory assessment, we could outline the skills needed and create a list of interview questions to judge whether or the candidate had them.

In addition, we devised a skill test, where the final applicants were given a business problem in their area and we ask to present how they might solve it. People can bluff their way through an interview, but it's hard to the same when presenting new work.

We attended the first few of these until David and his team were comfortable on their own.
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